Mystery surrounds death of ‘the perfect girlfriend’

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Mystery surrounds the death of a young woman whose body was found on a main road in Derbyshire.

Florence Challender, 22, died on the southbound carriageway of the A38 between Ripley and Kilburn on August 3 last year.

A Chesterfield coroners’ court inquest heard Ms Challender was previously standing on an overbridge above the road.

But recording an open conclusion today, coroner Kathryn Hayes said: “It’s not possible to say whether she jumped or fell from the bridge on to the A38 carriageway.”

‘The perfect girlfriend’

Ms Challender had been out drinking with her boyfriend, Peter Robinson, on the evening of August 3 and was ‘intoxicated’, the inquest heard.

They returned to Mr Robinson’s house at around 10pm and had a ‘very minor disagreement’ and he went to sleep.

Mr Robinson learned of Ms Challender’s death the following day.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Robinson said: “I loved her to bits - I was crazy about her.

“She was the perfect girlfriend.”

Police investigation

The inquest was told a vehicle’s dash-cam footage showed a figure standing on the footbridge in question - which we have decided not to identify based on guidance from the Samaritans - shortly before 10.45pm on August 3.

Ms Challender was hit by a number of vehicles on the A38 and suffered extensive injuries.

One of the drivers who struck Ms Challender ‘realised he needed to stop and call police’ so he pulled into a lay-by and alerted officers.

Other drivers later told police they thought they had hit an animal.

A police investigation concluded that Ms Challender, of Eagle Street, Heage, died either as a result of a conscious act or an accident.

It found ‘no suggestion any of the vehicles involved were to blame’.

Coroner offers condolences

Ms Challender received support for mental health issues and had previously been talked down from jumping off the same overbridge.

On another occasion, she jumped off it and suffered minor injuries.

In a statement read out in court, Ms Challender’s mother, Catherine Challender, said her daughter was the best she had been ‘for a couple of years’ in the month leading up to her death.

Concluding the inquest, Ms Hayes said: “I don’t know how Ms Challender came to be from the overbridge on to the A38.

“She could have jumped, she could have fallen.

“Suicidal intent can’t be established - she didn’t leave a suicide note, she didn’t send any messages to suggest she was looking to take her own life - so I can’t return a conclusion of suicide.

“In this case, I will have to return an open conclusion.

“It’s such a shame when a young person’s life ends in this way and I offer my condolences to Ms Challender’s loved ones.”

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Whoever you are, however you feel, whatever life has done to you, please remember that you are not alone and help is at hand. You can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email them via jo@samaritans.org. The Samaritans are there all day, every day.

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